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Reagan Being 'Maligned' by Critics--Aide

March 02, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — President Reagan's spokesman today complained that Reagan "is really being maligned" by criticism that he is out of touch and does not have a solid grip on the presidency.

"I think the President will demonstrate adequately that he's in command and full charge," presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said.

"He is an active, working President who's into the details, who's asking questions about what's going on and it's unfortunate that you haven't had a chance to see all of that--but you will," Fitzwater said.

Fitzwater delivered a strong rejoinder to suggestions in recent weeks--amplified by members of the Tower Commission and their report--that Reagan, at 76, is suffering from memory lapses and signs of old age.

'Irresponsible' Suggestions

"The President, I think, is really maligned in this area," Fitzwater said. Citing a litany of Administration accomplishments over the last few years, he asserted, "To suggest that suddenly, overnight, he's not able to handle these responsibilities is irresponsible."

Fitzwater said that since Reagan's prostate surgery Jan. 5, "we've seen progressively a stronger President as he emerged from his recuperation period."

Reagan, accompanied by new Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr., today held his first Cabinet meeting since the Tower Commission's report last Thursday portrayed him as confused about the Iran arms affair and said he failed to exercise control over his national security advisers.

Asked by a reporter if he were disturbed by the panel's findings, Reagan said: "No. I'm disturbed about being pressured to talk about it now."

Reagan is to deliver an address from the Oval Office this week to give his reaction.

'Taking Report to Heart'

Fitzwater said Reagan "is taking the report to heart." He could not say whether the President embraced its conclusions.

"He recognizes the seriousness of the (Tower Commission) findings and he wants an active agenda in the last two years," Fitzwater said. "He doesn't like it that this happened. It stalled the Administration for a time and he wants to get on with the business at hand."

The Tower report quoted Reagan as saying he could not recall a key detail--whether he authorized a shipment of arms to Iran in 1985. It also said he was not aware of the way the arms-for-hostages policy was implemented or its full consequences.

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